When we arrived at the airport, we were told Ethan’s plane would be delayed. A 2-hour car drive and some change at the airport paled in comparison to the months he was away. We were about to be reunited with him and the extra hour didn’t matter to us.
The kids ran around the airport in excitement. We made a homemade sign that they couldn’t wait to show him. They wanted to smother him with hugs and kisses and update him on all the things he missed while he was away. After some time passed, they directed all the families awaiting loved ones to stand in the front. I left the stroller and diaper bag behind (for picture purposes, obviously – haha) and watched as the first soldier stepped out through the swinging doors just before us. Every family stared in anticipation at the unknown figure in camouflage attire, hoping it was their special someone. Slowly, men and women trickled in. A round of applause was given to each person stepping through the door. One after another after another poured in but Ethan was nowhere to be seen. Each time the door swung open our heart fluttered. As the number of people out the door grew, each person not my husband left us a little deflated.
The kids started getting restless. “I thought you said we were going to see Daddy. I don’t see him here,” Kaiden cried. “Where’s my daddy?” Skye chimed in. A chain reaction amongst the kids began and before I knew it all three kids were crying on the floor. We were unable to get to diaper bags and snacks and bottles for fear of missing the moment he would step out. We stood there – Cora in hip, Skye in hand, and Kaiden by my side – waiting and watching dozens upon dozens of servicemembers step out for four whole hours. (My arm muscles were sore for days to follow, ha.)
And then, finally we spotted a shadowy figure behind the luggage cart filled to the brim with gear — there he was! All the kid’s tears and moods were gone. Kaiden sprinted to his dad. Skye followed. I let them jump on him and wrap their arms around him before I got my turn. We gave each other a kiss and then he looked down at his daughter who had grown so much in six months. But she didn’t recognize him. She cried, clinging to me even tighter.
We made our way out to a less crowded space where we could just be and in those moments everything felt right in the world. Similar to labor pains, everything that precluded his arrival was nothing but a distant memory. We soaked in the fact that we were together in the flesh. No more broken up phone calls. No more updates of each other through pictures. We could hold hands and kiss and talk in person and hug and date.
We drove home staring at each other with dumb smiles on our faces, affirming the love that grew fonder even in distance. I praised God for returning my husband home safely, for having his hand of protection on us as he was away, and for strengthening our marriage while being apart. There is no denying that God sustained us in this season. <3
PS. My dear friend Marisa took these incredible pictures for us. They are actually for an article in our upcoming issue (releasing mid-October) where I’ve written about the deployment and how his homecoming is a beautiful illustration of our heavenly homecoming. Normally, we don’t post shoot photos prior to publication but since these are so personal (and because I’m the editor, haha) I’m posting. I’m just so grateful that we have these memories documented. Thank you, Marisa!